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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label Kirk Smothers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kirk Smothers. Show all posts

Monday, July 20, 2020

Endless Blues Records artist: Eric Hughes Band - Postcard from Beale Street - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Postcard from Beale Street, by Eric Hughes Band and it contains a variety of music styles and turns. Opening with shuffle, Ain't Whipped Yet, Hughes is upfront on lead vocal and sweaty slide with Walter Hughes on backing guitar and vocal, Leo Goff on bass, and Brian Aylor on drums. Great guitar tones by Eric give this track a great spice. Oh, Booze! has a terrific, early Beale feel with solid vocals by Eric, with trumpet by Marc Franklin, Kirk Smothers on sax and Mick Kolassa on tussolin, spoons and backing exclamations. Ballad, Homesick Angel is the definite radio track on the release with a strong melody, solid backing vocals and tight accompaniment. Straight up acoustic blues ballad, Blackberry Patch has Eric on lead vocal and slide resonator over Walter on guitar. Simple and solid. Blues rocker, Waiting For That Day has a super boogie (woogie) feel with a great bass line by Goff, organ by Steff and harmonica by Eric. Possibly my favorite track on the release. Wrapping the release is It's 4:20 Somewhere, a bouncy track with a nice mixture of harmonica, guitar and slide with an almost Klezmer sound. Cool closer for an interesting release. 

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Friday, November 8, 2019

Severn Records artist: Tad Robinson - Real Street - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Real Street, from Tad Robinson and it's jam packed with R&B soul music. Opening with Changes, a real nice "Al Green" flavored track, Tad Robinson shows what much of the world already knows... he's a great singer with poise and style. Backed by Charles Hodges on Hammond, Leroy Hodges on bass, Howard Grimes on drums, Joe Restivo on guitar, Kevin Anker on piano, Mark Franklin on trumpet, and Kirk Smothers on sax, this is a great opener. Bluesy ballad, Search Your Heart is really strong and Robinson's exceptionally smooth vocals, backed by Devin Thompson on vocals and the warm Hammond work of Hodges and with a crisp guitar solo by Restivo make this one of my favorites on the release. Excellent! Another really bluesy track, Love In The Neighborhood has a great R&B style but checks off the blues box nicely with soulful vocals and harmonica by Robinson and solid guitar lead by Restivo. My favorite track on the release is soulful, Wishing Well Blues with ultra soulful vocals by Robinson and just the right weave of instrumentation over Anker's funky keyboard work and JG Watson/WW Washington style guitar playing. Excellent! Wrapping the release is slinky, Long Way Home with a real nice bass line by Leroy. Robinson has an unbelievable sense for soul music and the sound that this unit puts together is lush and inviting. Highly recommended. 

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Endless Blues Records artist: Mick Kolassa and the Taylor Made Blues Band - 149 Delta Ave. - New release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, 149 Delta Ave, from Mick Kolassa and the Taylor Made Blues Band and the talent is thick. Opening with I Can't Slow Down, a 2 steppin rocker, Mick Kolassa on lead vocal is backed by David Dunavent on guitars, Leo Goff on bass, Lee Andrew Williams on drums, Chris Stephenson on keys and Susan Marshall and Daunielle Hill on backing vocal this is a cool opener. Eric Hughes joins on US 12 to Highway 49, a smart shuffle with solid harp work. Cotton Road is one of my favorites on the release with roots in chain gang work songs. Toronzo Cannon adds some really smart guitar lead and wailing backing vocals make this track rich with feel. Pullin Me Down has a creeping R&B blues style with solid bass work from Goff, crisp guitar soloing by Jeff Jensen and includes tight trumpet and sax work by  Marc Franklin and Kirk Smothers. Very nice. A funky version of Ashford and Simpson's I Don't Need No Doctor has a real nice groove and the trumpet work of Franklin is bright. Alternating solos by Franklin, Smothers, Jensen and Stephensen really fill out the track. Wrapping the release is an interesting remake of classic Stuff Smith track, the Viper. Kolassa's vocals work well and with Suavo Jones on trombone, Alice Hansen on Stuff Smith's part (violin), Mike Wilson on Puccalo, and Marc Franklin on trumpet, this is a terrific closer.



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Monday, June 11, 2018

Jeff Jensen - Wisdom & Decay - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Wisdom & Decay, from Jeff Jensen and it's flavorful. Opening with Little Milton's I'm Living Off The Love You Give, you get a strong sense of soul from Jensen's hometown of Memphis. With Jensen on guitar and vocal, this band is packed with sound featuring Bill Ruffino on bass, David Green on drums, Chris Stephenson on organ, and a powerful dose of horns from Kirk Smothers on sax and Marc Franklin on trumpet. 2000 Days has a sensitive Latin rhythm and James Cunningham on percussion. A nicely phrased guitar solo by Jensen gives this track a nice boost.  With a formula that made the Doobies popular, Jensen hits that smooth rhythmic groove, pumped up by horns, clean melodic guitar riffs and backed by Reba Russell on vocal. With a slinky Latin feel, Downtown, has a firm bass edge by Ruffino, muted trumpet and simmering guitar lead giving the track a fiery feel.  Bob Dylan's Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You takes a solid clue from early Jeff Beck material with Bobby Tench but with a strong remake, this track is really strong. Rich backing vocals and some of the best vocals I've heard from Jensen make this one of my favorite tracks on the release. His guitar soloing is inspired and the horn work soulful. Very nice. Wrapping the release is The Water Jam/Something In The Water Revised which takes a basic melody and with tight percussion, rich organ and vibrant Spanish flavored electric guitar and punches it up with horns. This is adventuresome and a solid track to wrap a cool release.



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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Get Along Records artist: Dana Fuchs - Love Lives On - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Love Lives On, from Dana Fuchs and it's a soul drenched release that could have been done by Stax. Opening with Backstreet Baby, a R&B track with just a taste of southern rock, Fuchs winds it up with her distinctive vocals and Reverend Charles Hodges on organ, Jack Daley on bass, Steve Potts on drums, and Kirk Smothers and Marc Franklin on horns. On high stepper, Nobody's Fault But Mine, Fuchs gets into a groove that could have been created by the Queen of Soul herself. Punched up Smothers and Franklin, this track is hot. Sittin' On has solid radio styling with a super melody and balanced instrumental backing and featuring a nice steel solo by Eric Lewis. Ballad, Faithful Sinner, has a strong melody and with the firm horn work of Smothers and Franklin and soothing keyboard work of Glen Patscha, a solid radio entry. Ready To Rise is another of my choices with cool conga work by Felix Hernandez and slick guitar riffs by Jon Diamond. Fight My Way is a stand out track with a totally acoustic approach. Fuchs vocals are crisp and clear, backed by acoustic guitar, and Lewis on mandolin and steel. Very nice. Wrapping the release is Johnny Cash's Wheel Of Fire. Fuchs takes a nice approach on this classic, maintaining it's country roots but in a sensuous way. Her expressive vocals, coupled with slow yet warm steel work of Lewis makes this an excellent closer for a solid release.


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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Blue Barrel Records artist: The Love Light Orchestra Featuring John Nemeth - New release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, The Love Light Orchestra featuring John Nemeth and it's a super R&B show. Opening with See Why I Love You super vocalist John Nemeth leads this super group of Marc Franklin on trumpet, Scott Thompson on trumpet, Jason Yasinsky on trumpet, Art Edmalston on tenor sax, Kirk Smothers on bari sax, Jon Restino on guitar, Gerald Stephens on piano, Tim Goodwin on bass and Earl Lowe on drums. Edmalston cranks out a real nice solo on this one punched up by the tight trumpet work making it a terrific opener. Blues shuffle, Bad Breaks has terrific swagger with excellent guitar lead by Restivo and a nice tenor solo by Edmalston. Excellent! Nemeth's vocals are really nice on every track but none better than bluesy ballad, I've Been Wrong So Long, really enriched by warm sax work and punchy trumpet. Very nice.  Another shuffle, Sometimes plays Nemeth's vocals in call and response with Restino's slick guitar riffs. Stephens gets a real nice opportunity to lay out the keys and Edmalston gets the chance to throw down a squealer of his own. Very cool. Lonesome and High has great guitar lead with Nemeth's vocals riding high. The horn section here lacks nothing with depth and warmth. A cool track and one of the best on the release. One of my favorite tracks on the release is Singing For My Supper, with great incredible style. The horn section really pops on this one and Restino's soloing is emotional and fluid.  Wrapping the release is Al Green's Love and Happiness, a great closer. This band has great style and all the talent you could ask for. The people who were lucky enough to see this show live at Bar DKDC in Memphis were damn lucky.

Super job!



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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Big Legal Mess artist: Robert Finley - Age Don't Mean A Thing - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Age Don't Mean A Thing, from Robert Finley and it's a powerful new soul release. Opening with high stepping Memphis groove, I Just Want To Tell You, Robert Finley wastes no time establishing that his talent far exceeds his professional experience. An extremely soulful vocalist, Finley traveled north to Memphis to work with members of the Bo-Keys. Players include a who’s who of the Memphis soul scene including drummer Howard Grimes (Al Green, Otis Clay, Syl Johnson, OV Wright), Marc Franklin (Bobby “Blue” Bland), Jimbo Mathus (Elvis Costello), Al Gamble (St. Paul & The Broken Bones, the Hold Steady, Alex Chilton), Kirk Smothers (Jim Lauderdale, Buddy Guy), Reba Russell (U2, BB King), Harold Thomas (James Carr) and Daunielle Hill (Solomon Burke). With full soul backing vocals and Al Gamble's B3 rolling this is a great opener. On title track, Age Don't Mean A Thing, Finley really sings with gut wrenching authority. This track is exceptional with almost spiritual organ work by Gamble and essential underpinnings by Mathus. R&B track, Let Me Be Your Everything, is saturated with horn work by Kirk Smothers and trumpet by Marc Franklin and super backing vocals by Russell and Hill. Slowing down to a smoldering simmer, It's Too Late, puts Finley back upfront with nicely blended backing vocals by Russell and Hill. This is a really nice track and one that could easily hit the radio hard. Solid soul track, Snake In My Grass, has a nicely anchored melody with Finley's vocals drawing out the emotions, complimented by Smothers and Franklin. Very nice. James Brown like, Come On, gets a super groove cooking pressing you to get on your feet. With warm vocals and horn punctuating over a wah wah and funky bass work, how can you not love this! 70's pop track, Make It With You, written by David Gates, is given a really soulful overdo with light guitar rhythm, shimmery organ and Finley's powerful vocals. Very nice. You Make Me Want To Dance has a real Al Green kind of feel and you automatically feel that bounce starting in your head. Russell, Thomas and Hill really warm up the background on this track and Smothers and Franklin work is tight. Super. Wrapping the release is excellent soul track, Is It Possible To Love 2 People. With warm sax work by Smothers, nicely placed guitar riffs by Mathus, tom tom work by Grimes, B3 by Gamble and tight punctuation by Franklin, this track leaves you with nothing but wanting more. Excellent release.

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